The Coalmine Canyon Album

Coalmine Canyon #1

Yes, there was once a coal mine here in the late 1800s. But the seam was small, the coal was poor quality, and so the pioneers moved on from Coalmine Canyon and left the land to its owners, the Navajo and Hopi tribes of Native Americans. Good thing, because this gem of the Southwest is as lonely as it is gorgeous. The coal deposits at the top levels of the canyon are a key to its unique beauty, as they add black and blue colors to the usual red, orange and yellow tones of the desert, constructing a landscape like no other.

Coalmine Canyon #2
Coalmine Canyon #2

It is a photographer’s paradise on many levels. Most obviously, it is colorful, high relief, and in a climate zone of constantly changing light and seasons. Dawn, mid-day, sunset, bright sun and passing storms all change the character and mood of Coalmine Canyon. You will never see it and photograph it the same way twice.

Coalmine Canyon #4
Coalmine Canyon #4

It is also lonely. Not only will you see few other people exploring its rim, but the Native American stewards minimally manage your explorations. The Navajo tribe requests you get a permit to visit from any Navajo Tribal Parks office, but it is managed as wilderness and you are on your own to care for the land and respect the privacy of landowners.

Coalmine Canyon #5
Coalmine Canyon #5

One of the fascinating aspects of the canyon that appeals to me is the thin but intense red sandstone layers that occur among thick layers of white mudstone. In the canyon relief they give the strong impression of elevation lines on a topographic map.

Coalmine Canyon #7
Coalmine Canyon #7

Not only do I find these features appealing in horizontal vistas, but when seen in aerials taken directly above, they achieve an abstract quality. It can take a moment to realize what you are looking at.

Coalmine Canyon #8
Coalmine Canyon #8

As with most landscape photography, it is the light that makes or breaks the picture. The warm, angled light of dawn and dusk — broken clouds streaming patches of light across the immense acreage — even bright sun penetrating into impenetrable canyon — every condition presents new possibilities of color and composition.

Coalmine Canyon #6
Coalmine Canyon #6

To get to Coalmine Canyon, go to Tuba City, Arizona, which is on the Navajo Nation an hour north of Flagstaff,an hour south of Page, and an hour southwest of Kayenta. Stop at the Tribal office in town for a visit permit, then take Highway 264 southeast for 20 minutes, and you’re there. Find a few turnoffs on short dirt roads that will take you to overlooks. Most passenger cars can get to the closer vistas; a high-clearance vehicle takes you to some of the more remote spots.

Coalmine Canyon Arizona Map
Coalmine Canyon Arizona Map

“Wave” at 93rd Spring Salon Exhibit

Wave Monochrome 1 Spring Salon

Our image “Wave Monochrome #1” is in the catalog of the 93rd Spring Salon exhibition at the Springville Museum of Art, staring April 26 and running through July 8, 2017. The image is one of nine monochrome studies of “The Wave,” a geologic site in Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, Arizona, USA. A few other images from the series are shown below. More detail about the image is available here.

The Springville Museum of Art is Utah’s first museum for the visual fine arts. Dedicated as a “Sanctuary of Beauty and a Temple of Contemplation” by David O. McKay, the Museum houses over 2,500 works. Utah art, twentieth-century Soviet Realist art and American art, comprise the Museum’s permanent collection.

With over 15 exhibitions annually, the Museum is a key promoter and contributor to the arts in Utah. Artwork is displayed throughout 29 galleries in this 45,000 square foot facility and a beautiful outdoor sculpture garden.

Wave Monochrome #8
Wave Monochrome #8

Black and white derivations of the Wave images were begun in 2015 and completed in 2016. They are unusual visions because virtually all expressions of southwestern desert “redrock” scene are done in color, reflecting the dramatic hues of the terrain. Further To Fly’s monochrome impressions show them in a new light that emphasizes line and shape.

Wave Monochrome #4
Wave Monochrome #4

The Spring Salon was first held in 1922, and has been held annually since that time, except during World War II when fuel and other goods were rationed nationwide.  The exhibition is a juried competition that showcases the diversity and quality of contemporary Utah art. Over 900 works were proposed for the exhibition in 2017 and less than 10% were selected.

Wave Monochrome #5
Wave Monochrome #5

Point Imperial, Grand Canyon

Imperial Point, Grand Canyon

Most people would tell you there is only one Grand Canyon. In reality, there are two; the South Rim, which everybody visits, and the North Rim, which sees much less attention. And while the Grand Canyon landscapes offered by both are classics, everything else about the two sites is dissimilar. The north is a completely different environment – high, colder, wetter, and more forested. The photography is different, too. In the north, morning light brings out the amazing textures structure, while evening light works best in the south. “Point Imperial” is the striking feature highlighted here by the sunrise.

Photo Series: Get the Red Out.

Wave Monochrome 1 Spring Salon

Are the famed red rocks of the southwest USA always better in red? It depends on what you want to see. Here is my study of the The Wave, rendered in monochrome. Tell me how it succeeds — or not.

Wave Monochrome #11
Wave Monochrome #11
Wave Monochrome #10
Wave Monochrome #10
Wave Monochrome #9
Wave Monochrome #9
Wave Monochrome #8
Wave Monochrome #8
Wave Monochrome #7
Wave Monochrome #7
Wave Monochrome #6
Wave Monochrome #6
Wave Monochrome #5
Wave Monochrome #5
Wave Monochrome #4
Wave Monochrome #4
Wave Monochrome #3
Wave Monochrome #3
Wave Monochrome #2
Wave Monochrome #2

Breaking Wave, Monochrome

Wave Monochrome 1 Spring Salon

“The Wave” is a sandstone rock formation in northern Arizona that is a frequent photographic subject. It is in the backcountry, several hours’ hike from the nearest road, and the government stewards do not permit camping. For that reason most of the photos from here are taken at midday and are rather ordinary because light is harsh and blue when the sun is high.

For the sake of art, I broke the rules and stayed overnight because I wanted to explore this site in the warm, dim, flat light of dusk and dawn. The results justified my wanton lawbreaking, I think, producing a hue and flatness that highlights these formations’ abstract qualities. Later I explored black and white versions of these images and found them compelling in the way they translate the compressed layers of sand into movement and energy. Enjoy the sublime and improbable wildness of “The Wave!” (Price Schedule A)

Vermillion Cliffs

Vermilliion Cliffs

The sublime Vermillion Cliffs are at a nexus of the classic Old West, witness to Spanish explorers, Navajo and Hopi tribes, and immigrant settlers, not to mention a geologic wonderland carved by the Colorado River. They also have the misfortune of being surrounded by some of the most famous national parks in the western US — Grand Canyon, Canyonlands, Arches, Zion, Bryce Canyon. This is explains why their great beauty is unknown to many – everyone is driving past as fast as they can to other places. I have been coming back for years, however, entranced by their unpredictable light and changing moods.

This time I found them at exactly the right moment, backlit by the warm light of late afternoon, and crowned with beautiful cumulus clouds, and I had enough composure and adequate skill to not make a hash of it. A few more flips of the coin, and now you are part of this amazing sequence of chance events. What luck! (Price Schedule B)

Misty Monument Valley

This isn’t my photograph. It was taken by my mother just a few months before she passed away in 2015, at age 88. I’ve included it here for two reasons: First, it is to pay tribute to her vitality and determination, that she was up at dawn in the Arizona desert having another adventure at advanced age and in ill health. I would never presume to achieve that, or even come close. Second, it is a glorious and unusual photograph in its own right. “The Mittens” formation at Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is perhaps the most photographed and recognizable scene in Arizona, even beyond the Grand Canyon. I have seen it many times, but never in such dramatic light, with sinister clouds twisting around the silhouetted pillars. It is a scene that happens once in a lifetime — and it was a great lifetime. (Price Schedule D)

Unfolding

It is not hard to find photos of Antelope Canyon, the famous “slot canyon” on Navajo tribal land near Page, Arizona. Mine are a bit different, I think; I use High Dynamic Range techniques to bring out the texture and and detail of every shadow.

Antelope Canyon Produces amazing images, but the setting itself is small and simple. It is a narrow crevice with intricate turns cut down through a sandstone bluff by water and wind, perhaps 100 meters long and 20 meters tall. Direct sunlight reaches down to the bottom for less than an hour a day. This forces the photographer to plan his/her moves very carefully, as one will be scurrying around like a madman trying to take lots of photos before the sun goes away. (Price Schedule C)

Breaking Wave

“The Wave” is a sandstone rock formation in northern Arizona that is a frequent photographic subject. It is in the backcountry, several hours’ hike from the nearest road, and the government stewards do not permit camping. For that reason most of the photos from here are taken at midday and are rather ordinary because light is harsh and blue when the sun is high.

For the sake of art, I broke the rules and stayed overnight because I wanted to explore this site in the warm, dim, flat light of dusk and dawn. The results justified my wanton lawbreaking, I think, producing a hue and flatness that highlights these formations’ abstract qualities. Enjoy the sublime and improbable wildness of “The Wave!” (Price Schedule B)

Secret Chamber

It is not hard to find photos of Antelope Canyon, the famous “slot canyon” on Navajo tribal land near Page, Arizona. Mine are a bit different, I think; many I see let the shadows obscure the texture and detail of the rock. However, I use High Dynamic Range Techniques make every grain of sand a part of the scene. This photo is one of my favorites because I used a “fisheye” lens, which distorts reality in crazy ways. Yet, this “Secret Chamber” scene looks, counter-intuitively, normal — a statement about how bizarre this formation really is.

Antelope Canyon Produces amazing images, but the setting itself is small and simple. It is a narrow crevice with intricate turns cut down through a sandstone bluff by water and wind, perhaps 100 meters long and 20 meters tall. Direct sunlight reaches down to the bottom for less than an hour a day. This forces the photographer to plan his/her moves very carefully, as one will be scurrying around like a madman trying to take lots of photos before the sun goes away. (Price Schedule D)

North Rim Panorama

Most people would tell you there is only one Grand Canyon. In reality, there are two; the South Rim, which everybody visits, and the North Rim, which sees much less attention. And the two places are quite different. The north is a completely different environment – high, colder, wetter, and more forested. The photography is different, too. In the north, morning light brings out the amazing textures structure, while evening light works best in the south. “Wotan’s Throne” is the striking feature highlighted here by the sunrise. (Price Schedule F)

Monument Valley Panorama

To a careless visitor, unwilling to venture off the main roads, Monument Valley can seem small and repetitive. One sandstone pinnacle seems just like the next. But if you are willing to kick up some dust and risk disorientation in the maze of canyons, cliffs, buttresses and towers, Monument Valley rewards you. And if you are willing to do that in the pre-dawn darkness, finding yourself deep inside its labyrinth when the sun rises, amazing things happen. Shadows and sandstone mingle in a sublime interplay of depth and distance.

This image is constructed of six separate frames digitally stitched with Panorama Maker 4.0 software by ArcSoft. Barely noticeable in the left middle foreground is a hogan, the traditional round dwelling of the Navajo tribe of native Americans. (Price Schedule C)

Inner Sanctum

It is not hard to find photos of Antelope Canyon, the famous “slot canyon” on Navajo tribal land near Page, Arizona. This is from my first visit to Antelope Canyon many years ago,Before I began using High Dynamic Range techniques at this site. These images, especially this narrow slot I call the “Inner Sanctum,” let the shadows come on strong as a contrast to the brilliant sunbeams.

Antelope Canyon produces amazing images, but the setting itself is small and simple. It is a narrow crevice with intricate turns cut down through a sandstone bluff by water and wind, perhaps 100 meters long and 20 meters tall. Direct sunlight reaches down to the bottom for less than an hour a day. This forces the photographer to plan his/her moves very carefully, as one will be scurrying around like a madman trying to take lots of photos before the sun goes away. (Price Schedule F)

Heart of Darkness

It is not hard to find photos of Antelope Canyon, the famous “slot canyon” on Navajo tribal land near Page, Arizona. This image is from my first trip to the site many years ago and does not use the High Dynamic Range technique that I’ve used on later visits. I gave it the name “Heart of Darkness” for the central dark stone formation which seems to me like a caped, malevolent bird of prey.

Antelope Canyon Produces amazing images, but the setting itself is small and simple. It is a narrow crevice with intricate turns cut down through a sandstone bluff by water and wind, perhaps 100 meters long and 20 meters tall. Direct sunlight reaches down to the bottom for less than an hour a day. This forces the photographer to plan his/her moves very carefully, as one will be scurrying around like a madman trying to take lots of photos before the sun goes away. (Price Schedule F)

Wave, Three Textures

Wave Textures

“The Wave” is a sandstone rock formation in northern Arizona that is a frequent photographic subject. It is in the back country, several hours’ hike from the nearest road, and camping is not permitted by the government stewards. For that reason most of the photos from here are taken at midday and are rather ordinary because midday light is harsh and hot blue.

For the sake of art, I broke the rules and stayed overnight because I wanted to explore this site in the warm, red, flat light of dusk and dawn. I was very pleased with the results. I think I captured these phenomenal natural abstractions in their best light, so to speak. I especially like this shot because it studies the contrasting texture of the sandstone, and ignores the broad scenes which usually come from this amazing place. (Price Schedule E)

Breaking Wave

“The Wave” is a sandstone rock formation in northern Arizona that is a frequent photographic subject. It is in the backcountry, several hours’ hike from the nearest road, and camping is not permitted by the government stewards. For that reason most of the photos from here are taken at midday and are unfortunately ordinary because midday light is harsh and blue.

For the sake of art, I broke the rules and stayed overnight because I wanted to explore this site in the warm, red, flat light of dusk and dawn. I was very pleased with the results of this wanton lawbreaking, capturing these phenomenal natural abstractions in a unique light. Enjoy the sublime and improbable wildness of The Wave.

Aquamarine

It is not hard to find photos of Antelope Canyon, the famous “slot canyon” on Navajo tribal land near Page, Arizona. Mine are a bit different, I think; many try to expose the entire scene and capture every detail of every piece of rock. However, I find the shadows to be intriguing spaces and I try to give them a share of the stage

Antelope Canyon Produces amazing images, but the setting itself is small and simple. It is a narrow crevice with intricate turns cut down through a sandstone bluff by water and wind, perhaps 100 meters long and 20 meters tall. Direct sunlight reaches down to the bottom for less than an hour a day. This forces the photographer to plan his/her moves very carefully, as you will be scurrying around like a crazy person trying to take lots of photos before the sun goes away.

This photo gets its title, Aquamarine, from the color of the light beam. The beam gets its color from the Tyndall Effect, a phenomenon of physics in which the dust particles are exactly the right size to transmit most of the colors of the light spectrum and reflect only the blue.